Ground All Drones is a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) created to address the use of drones, particularly armed drones. Drones are developed worldwide, not only by the U.S. but by other nations as well. In the U.S.unarmed surveillance drones could be used to spy on citizens, a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment Rights. The current focus of this committee is on the use of weaponized drones.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Obama’s New Normal: The Drone Strikes Continue

By Amy Goodman
Posted on  Posted on Dec 23, 2013

There has been yet another violent attack with mass casualties. This was not the act of a lone gunman, or of an armed student rampaging through a school. It was a group of families en route to a wedding that was killed. The town was called Radda—not in Colorado, not in Connecticut, but in Yemen. The weapon was not an easy-to-obtain semiautomatic weapon, but missiles fired from U.S. drones. On Thursday, Dec. 12, 17 people were killed, mostly civilians.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has consistently tracked U.S. drone attacks, recently releasing a report on the six months following President Barack Obama’s major address on drone warfare before the National Defense University (NDU) last May. In that speech, Obama promised that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured—the highest standard we can set.” The BIJ summarized, “Six months after President Obama laid out U.S. rules for using armed drones, a Bureau analysis shows that covert drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed more people than in the six months before the speech.” In a nation that abhors the all-too-routine mass killing in our communities, why does our government consistently kill so many innocents abroad?

One significant problem with assessing the U.S. drone-warfare program is its secrecy. U.S. officials rarely comment on the program, less so about any specific attack, especially where civilian deaths occur. As Obama admitted in the speech, “There’s a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties and nongovernmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties.” The BIJ’s estimate of the death toll from U.S. drone strikes during the past 12 years in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is well over 4,000.

While the U.S. media shower attention on the hypothetical prospects that in the next few years, will deploy clever little drones to deliver your holiday orders, it is important to take a hard look at what these airborne robots are actually doing now. “Democracy Now!” correspondent Jeremy Scahill has been exposing U.S. covert warmaking for years, most recently in his book and film “Dirty Wars.” The film was just shortlisted for an Oscar for best documentary. After the Academy Award nomination was made, he told us, “I hope that people pay attention to these stories, that Americans will know what happened to the Bedouin villagers in al-Majalah, Yemen, where three dozen women and children were killed in a U.S. cruise missile strike that the White House tried to cover up.”

In his NDU address, Obama said, “We act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people.” Neither Obama nor any of his aides have explained just what kind of threat the wedding convoy presented to the American people. The government of Yemen, following local custom, made reparations to the victimized families, reportedly delivering 101 Kalashnikov rifles and a little over $100,000.

These rural villages in Yemen are caught in the middle of a violent conflict, as Human Rights Watch wrote in an October report titled “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda.” Just one month to the day before Obama gave his address at the NDU, Farea al-Muslimi, an eloquent young Yemeni man who spent a year attending a U.S. high school, spoke before a congressional hearing. Six days before he testified, a drone strike hit his village of Wessab. Farea said: “What Wessab’s villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here. ... Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab.” He ended his testimony with the hope that “when Americans truly know about how much pain and suffering the U.S. air strikes have caused ... they will reject this devastating targeted killing program.”

The scenes of senseless violence in the U.S. form a list of sorrow and loss: Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, Littleton. With the ongoing work of committed activists, courageous journalists and responsible officials, perhaps Americans will recite as well the names Gardez, Radda, al-Majalah, Mogadishu and the many more sites of drone strikes still cloaked in secrecy.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.
© 2013 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Potluck: Building the Movement Against Drones

Potluck: Building a Movement Against Drones
Saturday, January 11, 2014

5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
4200 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Bring a dish to share and come hear from Anti-War Committee members Misty Rowan and Sophia Hansen-Day about the Code Pink Drone Summit they attended in Washington D.C. Then we'll have a discussion about what to do to continue to build a grassroots movement against drones. Families welcome.

Sponsored by: the Anti-War Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM Ground All Drones Committee, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee and Women Against Military Madness.
FFI  612.827.5364 or

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Official Story: How NY Times Covers Yemen Drone Strikes

from FAIR (Fairness in Accuracy & Reporting)  Posted Dec 13

News that a US drone strike hit a wedding convoy in Yemen has been getting a lot of international press attention, mostly due to the fact that over a dozen people were reportedly killed. But the New York Times' write-up (12/13/13) was one of the most jarring:
Most of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al Qaeda, according to tribal leaders in the area, but there were also reports that several civilians had been killed.
 So most of the dead appeared to be  people suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda. That's a whole lot of qualifiers to make the point that those who were killed were the intended targets.
But there's a pattern of the Times doing this.
In August of this year there were several suspected US drone attacks. Strikes on August 1 and August 8 reportedly killed several civilians, including children, part of a series of drone strikes around that time.
The New York Times ran an AP dispatch on August 9, reporting this:
 Three American drone strikes in Yemen on Thursday killed a total of 12 people suspected of being members of Al Qaeda, a Yemeni military official said, raising to eight the number of attacks in less than two weeks.
A news analysis on August 10 reported, "Eight strikes have been carried out in Yemen in the past two weeks, a ferocious rate of drone attacks," before adding, "It is yet unknown who exactly was killed in Yemen during the past two weeks." One would hope that more journalistic energy would be devoted to figuring out who the United States was killing.

And there are other examples. On May 16, 2012, the Times reported news of a drone strike the day before:
The United States has also stepped up its drone strikes in Yemen in recent days, with 11 militants reported killed on Saturday east of Sana.
 But other accounts told a different story. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (5/15/12) reported that
between 14 and 15 people have been killed in a double air strike on the southern city of Jaar.  Of these, as many as a dozen are being reported as civilians. Up to 21 civilians have also been reported injured.
Witnesses said the first strike targeted alleged militants meeting in a house. Civilians who had flocked to the impact site were killed in a follow-up strike.
 And CNN reported (5/15/12):
Two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed seven al Qaeda militants and eight civilians in the southern part of Yemen on Tuesday, three Yemeni security officials said.
And one of the most infamous attacks in Yemen occurred on December 17, 2009, when the United States launched a cruise missile strike on al-Majala, in southern Yemen. That attack included cluster bombs. 41 civilians are believed to have been killed in the strike.  

Go To  rest of article here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Drone strike kills 15 'wedding party-goers' in Yemen

Published time: December 12, 2013 18:49
Edited time: December 13, 2013 11:56

Fifteen people who had been heading to a wedding in Yemen have been killed in an air strike. Local media reported that a drone attack had been responsible, and the party-goers had been hit instead of an Al-Qaeda convoy.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” a Yemeni security official told Reuters.

Five more people were injured in the attack which took place in Radda, central al-Bayda province on Thursday, the source added.

The group had been en route to the the village of Qaifa, the site of the wedding, when it was hit. The assault left charred bodies strewn in the road and vehicles on fire, officials told AP.

While officials would not identify the source of the air strike, local and tribal media sources attributed the deaths to a drone attack.

No comment followed as to whose drone may have delivered the strike. However, the US is known for its counter-terrorism assistance to the country which at times includes UAV raids.
Washington has recently increased the intensity of its drone strikes in Yemen, despite widespread criticism sparked by the fact that strikes are far from being ‘surgical’.

In October, Human Rights Watch released a damning report on US drone strikes in Yemen. It described six of the total of some 80 targeted killing operations in the country. In those six attacks 82 people were killed, 57 of whom – or practically 70 percent – were civilians.

“President Obama says the US is doing its utmost to protect civilians from harm in these strikes. Yet in the six cases we examined, at least two were a clear violation of the laws of war,” HRW Senior Researcher Letta Tayler commented at the time.

In the same month, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, said that US drone strikes had killed 2,200 in Pakistan in the past decade, 400 of whom were civilians and another 200 ‘probable non-combatants’. Pakistan is another country, where the local population vehemently opposes American drone strikes.

"There are many, many examples of civilians - women, children, older people - being killed by these drones," anti-drone activist Leah Bolger told RT in an interview.

And even if the drones attack the people that the CIA intends to attack, this is outside the judicial process, and these are illegal attacks. They violate the sovereignty of Yemen, of Pakistan, Afghanistan. Even if the person attacked is a bona fide member of Al-Qaeda, until they can be proven to have done something that is against the law, these are extrajudicial assassinations."

People gather near the wreckage of a car destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in August 2012, in the al-Qatn district of the southeastern Yemeni province of Hadhramout February 5, 2013 (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)
People gather near the wreckage of a car destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in August 2012, in the al-Qatn district of the southeastern Yemeni province of Hadhramout February 5, 2013
 (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)
In addition to the high civilian casualty rates, critics say drone strikes are done in violation of international law, and question whether the Obama administration has the authority to sanction the killings without a court warrant.

One particular practice denounced by human rights activists is the use of so-called ‘signature strikes’, in which a drone attack is given a go based not on identification of known Al-Qaeda fighters, but on the behavior of people.

In practice, drone pilots may attack any males, who look old enough and are armed. Considering that people living in tribal areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen have a long tradition of carrying personal weapons as a sign of manhood, ‘signature strikes’ are prone to kill many civilians, critics say.

Yemen is considered to be the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)’s main foothold of what is deemed the most active wing of the militant network.

Critics maintain that the drone strikes program in the country has done nothing to stem the growth of Al-Qaeda, and has even increased support for the terror network.

“Every time there is a drone strike, that’s the best recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda. Killing people in a wedding party, I am sure, will lead to not tens, but probably a hundred people joining Al-Qaeda,” political activist Medea Benjamin told RT. “This guarantees that the cycle of violence will go on in perpetual war.”
However, in August, Yemen requested that the US supply the country with drones in order to help it fight the Al-Qaeda threat.


CommonDreams article on US Drone Strike on Wedding Party 

US drone strike kills at least 13 in convoy heading to wedding party, Yemeni officials say

Yemeni officials say a U.S. drone strike has hit a convoy heading to wedding party, killing at least 13 people.

Officials told Reuters that 15 people were killed.

"An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," a security official told Reuters.

According to the report, five more people were injured.

The officials say Thursday's attack took place in the Yemeni city of Radda, the capital of Bayda province. The city is known as a stronghold of Al Qaeda militants.

They said the convoy was heading to a wedding in the village of Qaifa when it was hit by the drone, and that the strike left charred bodies in the road and vehicles on fire.

One official said that Al Qaeda militants are suspected to have been traveling with the wedding convoy.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The U.S. considers Yemen's Al Qaeda branch to be among the most active in the world. Yemen is among a handful of countries where the U.S. acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice, Reuters reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Friday, December 6, 2013

US Navy submarine fires drone from underwater

Article from RT Online 

Published: December 06, 2013 
Time-lapse photography shows the launch of a drone from the submerged submarine USS Providence. (Photo: NAVSEA-AUTEC)

The US Navy has successfully launched an unmanned aerial system from a fully submerged submarine, marking the successful completion of a nearly six year long program designed to further the Navy’s drone capabilities.
The fuel-cell powered, completely electric unmanned aerial system (UAS) was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with funding assistance provided by the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office and the SwampWorks innovation program.
Engineers used a launch system known as ‘Sea Robin’ (first developed to launch tomahawk missiles from submarines) to fire what is known as the eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System, or XFC UAS. The UAS surfaced before rocketing through the air for several hours, broadcasting the entire mission via live video to commanders watching from a nearby base.
This six-year effort represents the best in collaboration of a Navy laboratory and industry to produce a technology that meets the needs of the special operations community,” Dr. Warren Schultz, program developer and manager at NRL, said in a press release. “The creativity and resourcefulness brought to the project by a unique team of scientists and engineers represents an unprecedented shift in UAV propulsion and launch systems.”
The Navy’s announcement Thursday comes as the public is questioning the very future of drones. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced this week that he hopes the company will eventually deliver packages throughout the United States by using drones rather than traditional ground and air delivery services. The mere mention of such a plan was enough to cause a commotion, with columnists and lawmakers alike warning against such a plan.
Moreover, upcoming regulations by the FAA on the domestic use of drones are expected to include major restrictions and limit the use of UAV’s weighing up to 55 pounds.
It also comes after the Navy and Marines decided to bet big on the RQ-21A Blackjack. Officials at Navy Air Command awarded an $8.8 million contract to Insitu, a subsidiary of the Boeing Corporation last week in an exchange for an initial Blackjack order. The order includes the production of one aircraft, ground control stations, as well as launch equipment, according to Wired.
The Blackjack craft is 8 feet long with a wingspan of 16 feet, weighing in at 80 pounds. The drone can be launched from air or sea and is capable of flying 104 mph at nearly 20,000 feet for 13 hours.
It has a configurable payload that allows you to integrate new and unique payloads that are specific to the mission in addition to an [electro-optical/infrared] camera,” Marine Corps Major Wayne Phelps told the technology magazine. “You can have multi-mission ability. This allows you to do some type of unique cross-cueing types of missions.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anti-Drone Blockade in Pakistan Forces Halt to US Military Shipments

Protesters vow to continue blockade until US ceases deadly drone strikes in that country

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer 
Ongoing protests against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are fueling a non-violent blockade along its border that have now forced a halt to NATO military supply convoys heading to neighboring Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Pakistani protesters carry banners and shout anti-US slogans during a demonstration against US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal region, in Peshawar on November 29, 2013.(Photo: A Majeed/ AFP) 

 The route, which runs from Torkham Gate at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the Pakistani port city of Karachi, is one of the primary commercial transit routes of American military cargo out of Afghanistan, said Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright. He added that the U.S. military was "voluntarily" halting shipments through that route "to ensure the safety of the drivers contracted to move our equipment."

Leading opposition leader Imran Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) had organized the protests, said Tuesday that the blockade would not stop until the U.S. brought an end to the deadly drone strikes within his country.

Speaking at a rally of PTI party members who were manning the blockade at one of the country's toll plazas, Khan said that the action was not a declaration of war but a "peaceful way to protest against U.S. aggression and its continued attempts to impede the return of peace to Pakistan."
“The U.S. poses to be a friend of Pakistan. Which friendly country attacks another friend?” he continued.

According to Pakistan's News International,
The PTI workers, along with some from the party’s coalition partner, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), have imposed a blockade on Nato supplies by camping at five points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For the last 10 days, they have been disallowing trucks taking goods for Western troops in Afghanistan. They stop vehicles, check their shipment documents and send back those suspected of taking supplies for NATO forces. As hundreds of containers have been stalled by the protest, over a dozen were forced to go back at the Ring Road sit-in.
[Khan] advised his workers not to resort to violence or break the law during their protest against NATO supplies. He told them not to create problems for Afghan Transit Trade vehicles.
Khan vowed that the protest would continue "for an indefinite period," adding "if anyone thought that the PTI would lift the blockade, they were mistaken."

On November 23, thousands of protesters first blockaded the supply route, though at the time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured that the NATO supply routes will remain open.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Sign of the Times? UN Launches First Drone

With drones in over 70 countries, critics warn we must stem proliferation before 'furies' are fully deployed

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer
MQ-1 Predator (97-3034) armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

For the first time, peacekeepers with the United Nations launched a surveillance drone on Tuesday.
The UN's UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, is being deployed over the Democratic Republic of Congo "to monitor the volatile border with Rwanda and Uganda."

Though a reportedly peaceful mission, today's launch is another example of the mass proliferation of drones, a technology that has grown at a "geometric pace" and, as civil society groups warn, has outpaced any attempt to regulate their use.

In addition to the UN, over 70 countries in the world now deploy drones. As Foreign Policy in Focus columnist Conn Hallinan notes, drones today have become a "multi-billion dollar industry" with countries across the globe "building and buying them."

The proliferation of drones is staggering. In 2001, Hallinan notes, the U.S. had 50 drones; today it has over 7,500. And between 2005 and 2011, the number of drone programs—public and private initiatives—worldwide jumped from 195 to 680.

"Occupying someone else’s lands is dangerous and expensive, hence the siren lure of drones as a risk-free and cheap way to intimidate the locals and get them to hand over their land or resources," Hallinan writes, noting that the number of killer drones in development are "expanding at a geometric pace," with 16 countries currently owning "the lethal variety."

Article continues here.